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Senate neglects to reconfirm Bentz as wildlife commissioner amid illegal hunting investigation

Embattled Mississippi Wildlife Commissioner Leonard Bentz, Jr. will not be reinstated to his post after facing scrutiny for illegally hunting turkeys in Holmes County.

Lawmakers at the capitol concluded the 2024 legislative session on Saturday, yet a vote to confirm Bentz’s reappointment was never held. The reasoning, per sources, is that Republican Gov. Tate Reeves never sent down a nomination for Bentz to retain his seat on the commission.

SuperTalk Mississippi News reached out to the governor’s team multiple times for verification on the matter but never heard back.

Bentz found the security of his commissionership in jeopardy back in March after confirming to us that he had been issued a citation for hunting on land baited by crickets — though he maintains that he was unaware that the bugs had been dispersed across the hunting spot to lure the wild birds.

The corroboration from the commissioner came after sources told us that Bentz and at least one of his sons were among a group of hunters allegedly breaking a state law that says it’s illegal to hunt or trap any wild animal or wild bird with the aid of bait. According to Bentz, conservation officers said the landowner and caretaker of the 500-acre plot had released the crickets onto the property days before the commissioner and his crew arrived.

Bentz went on to say that he personally inspected the roads and feeders before the hunt began and that conservation officers on the scene vocally exonerated him of any purposeful wrongdoing.

“Under the law, even though I was told by officers that they knew I was not aware the crickets were on the property, I am in violation because I hunted the property where the crickets were placed,” Bentz wrote in an email.

Law enforcement did not confirm to us that the commissioner had been cleared of any willful negligence. Wildlife officials have also not provided any additional details regarding their investigation into the incident despite requests for comment.

The citation issued to Bentz was the icing on the cake for outdoor enthusiasts who have maintained a strong stance that the

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